With the calendar now displaying August, the annual pilgrimage to Southern Utah University has begun. License plates from nearly every state, from Arkansas to Alaska, have sprung up across Cedar City and retail stores are filled with beleaguered parents and wild-eyed students buying supplies and dorm necessities.
In this time of transition, volunteers from across campus have swooped in to calm the minds of fledging freshmen and panicked parents at the annual T-Bird Landing—also known as move in day.
About 400 students moved into the campus’s four residence halls on Wednesday, August 21. SUU staff, faculty, students, coaches and athletes were on hand unloading cars, answering questions and hauling boxes up flights of stairs.
As soon as the rookie T-Birds pulled their tightly packed vehicles into the Cedar Hall or Eccles Living and Learning Center parking lots, green-shirted volunteers flew into action. With an average move in time of five minutes per student, their parents were left flummoxed by the quickness of their child’s acclimation to the T-Bird family.
One parent from Idaho Falls, Idaho said in the midst of packing bedding to her pre-med son’s new home, “We chose SUU because everything was so professional and welcoming and having all this help today just solidifies those feelings. I’m a lot less worried about leaving my son here.”
In its sixth year, T-Bird Landing takes the stress and demand from moving, giving students and parents additional aid and freeing up time before the start of fall classes.
University administrators began this tradition to give extra support to new students and according to Chris Ralphs, director of University Housing & Residential Education, it has morphed into something much greater, “SUU prides itself on the student experience. We have incredible faculty and student interactions and it starts with T-Bird Landing.”
He added, “While it’s nice for students to have help moving a few boxes, this is one of their first interactions with campus and they can begin forming relationships with the faculty and staff at the University. It’s incredible for students to realize that the person moving their boxes is their new English professor or even University vice presidents.”
Provost Brad Cook was seen in the midst of the green-shirted volunteers, packing clothes and bedding up stairs to bedrooms. He said, “This is one of my favorite traditions at SUU. I love being able to interact with these new students in an informal setting where I can see the excitement they have to start school. It’s contagious.”
All of SUU, from faculty to staff to current students want to welcome the Class of 2017 and their families to the T-Bird Family.